On Thursday, March 6, I was feeling very emotional and overwhelmed because I was so ready to meet my baby, and he hadn't been ready to come yet. That afternoon I had a prenatal appointment with my midwife. Everything looked beautiful with the baby. After a short discussion I decided to have her sweep my membranes. It was uncomfortable and a little painful, but not too bad. Eventually the appointment ended, and throughout the evening I had a bit of cramping and spotting (expected after having membranes swept).
The next day was pretty quiet and normal. I continued to have a slight amount of spotting from the procedure the day before. Late that afternoon my husband and I enjoyed some adult time while our two boys watched a video downstairs. As soon as we were done, I started having crampy contractions, about every 3-7 minutes apart. These continued through the evening. My husband and I watched a movie, and I kept timing them all the way through. About 9pm I looked at my husband and said "I think we'll be calling Esme [our midwife] tonight!" We had planned a home waterbirth, so my husband pulled out the tub and got things prepared. We had previously had several false alarms, so we wanted to be absolutely sure before we called for the birth team to come to the house.
We decided to go upstairs and try to sleep, but the contractions were getting stronger now, and between that and the excitement, we both realized that we would not be sleeping any time soon. We went back downstairs and sat on the couch. I had heard about how kissing can help with relaxation and dilation during labor, so we sat on the couch and started to kiss. After smooching through several contraction, I felt a strange sensation in my belly. My husband had been touching my belly,and he felt it too. It didn't occur to me what it was until I felt a small spurt of wet warmth between my legs, a minute or so later. I said "I think that might have been my water breaking! It did feel like a kind of ‘pop'!" This was about 10:20pm. We called the midwife to let her know what was going on, and she said it sounded like it was early, and left it to us to call when we wanted the birth team to come. About 25 minuteslater, I had been sitting on my birthing ball, and when I started to stand up, I felt a trickle down both my legs...and then there was the undeniable sound of fluid dribbling onto the floor beneath me. Then we knew, this was really it!
My husband started filling the birthing tub. I was walking around, getting things ready and checking email. When a contraction would come, I would find something (kitchen counter, dining room table, my husband) to lean on. It helped to brace myself and lean with my forearms on a firm surface. Around 11pm we decided to call and have the birth team come. The birth team included my midwife Esme as well as two midwife apprentices, Rebecca and Taryn. We also called my in-laws, who were coming to help out and be responsible for our two older boys. We told everyone it was not urgent yet, but that they should start heading our way.
Everyone arrived at about the same time, around 12:30am. I was still able to smile & laugh, but during contractions I would find someplace to lean and concentrate on breathing through the rushes.
My in-laws went upstairs to try to get some sleep, and the birth team stayed in the background, letting us do our own thing (which worked so well for us in my previous labor) and coming to check baby's heart rateregularly.
Around 1am I got in the birthing tub. The warm water felt great, and the pain of the contractions was lessened a lot after I got settled. After awhile my husband got in, too, and we experimented with different positions. Pretty soon things started to get much more intense. We tried kissing through some of the contractions, and that really did help for awhile. I tried to focus on relaxing my whole body, and taking deep breaths helped me to do that. Another tactic for this labor was making low, moaning sounds. I think that helped to loosen things up "down under" and also it gave me something to concentrate on.
The next few hours are a little blurry in my memory. The contractions got really intense, and we both were feeling so tired. I sat leaning back against my husband's chest, and we would just be really quiet in between contractions. My poor husband kept drifting off to sleep, and his chin would bonk me on the head, at which point he would say "Oh, I'm so sorry!" That was actually pretty funny, he was so remorseful.
I was starting to feel like it was getting hard to handle the contractions. Then there came a contraction that felt a little different. I wasn't positive, but I thought "Was I just feeling a little pushy there?" And without my mentioning it out loud, my husband asked "Did you just get the urge to push?" I told him that I thought I had, but I wasn't sure. He called for Esme to come, and I asked to be checked. I had not been checked before I started pushing during my previous labor, but for some reason this time I wanted the confirmation of being complete. Rebecca checked me and said that she couldn't feel my cervix at all, and the baby's head was "right there." Whenever I felt ready, it was okay to push.
So I got up on my knees, leaned on the edge of the tub, and got started. Right away I remembered how much I detest pushing! And this time it seemed really intense and scary to me. I had torn with both my other labors, and I just felt sure that I was going to tear again. Still, I tried to take it easy and listen to my body. I had always wondered if I just pushed with too much gusto those other times, and that if I had taken it a little more slowly and let the tissues stretch, it might have been better.My dear husband kept saying "Push to the point of comfort, push as long as it's comfortable." This is something that we had learned in a Bradley Method childbirth class we'd taken during my first pregnancy. It really bothered me, although for a while I couldn't find the words or energy to say anything to him. Finally I said, with my teeth gritted a bit, "I wish you'd stop talking about it being comfortable." There was nothing comfortable about this pushing business!
The last few pushes were really scary for me. I could feel the baby moving down, and I could feel him crowning, or almost crowning-- that might be more accurate. Then I would run out of steam, or courage, or contraction, and the head would scoot back a bit. I knew this was normal but I really, really wanted to be finished pushing! Finally after two contractions like that, I managed to just pant after the contraction ended, and the head stayed forward. The next time I pushed, my husband said the head was starting to come out, so I bore down, gave it all I had, and at 4:08am, with one savage bellow, my son was born!
His dad caught him, the birth team helped me turn over so I could meet him. My dear, sweet husband handed him to me, and we sat close as we sang the lullaby we have sung all of our babies in the moments after their births. The first stanza goes,
"Baby boy fusses, baby boy laughs
The Angel who watches says 'Hey, look at that,
'There's your faith, the mountains will shake
'Cause God gladly bends just to hear baby boy when he prays..."
(adapted from a song Rich Mullins wrote for a girl named Madeline)
Molly's Note: Mindy is the full-time mom of three little boys - you can read more about her over at her blog, Sweetness in the Small Stuff. You can read the stories of her other two wonderful births at her Beginnings blog. Thanks for sharing your story, Mindy!